Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Audley End House and Gardens

Looking back to September which seems ages ago now you are welcome to accompany me on a trip to Audley End House in Essex and just an hours drive from home.

These first two photographs of the Hall and Drawing Room are from the website as it is not possible to take photographs inside the house.


Audley End takes its name from Sir Thomas Audley, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor who, after 1538, adapted the extensive buildings of suppressed Walden Abbey as his mansion. His grandson Thomas Howard, first Earl of Suffolk, rebuilt the house on a massive scale between 1603 and 1614. Known as 'the Palace of Audley End', this Jacobean 'prodigy house' was three times its present size, and one of the largest mansions in England. But in 1618 Suffolk fell from favour and into massive debt, and his great house went into decline.

Charles II bought Audley End in 1668 as a base for attending Newmarket races: his Queen Catherine of Braganza held court here that Autumn.

Repairs were carried out by Sir Christopher Wren, but their cost proved ruinous, and in 1701 William III returned Audley End to the Suffolk family.

The witty and accomplished Henrietta Howard lived here, before leaving her 'obstinate, drunken and brutal' husband, the 9th Earl, for a royal lover and her new Thames-side mansion, Marble Hill House.

When the Suffolk line died out in 1745, Audley was bought by the Countess of Portsmouth for her nephew and heir, Sir John Griffin Griffin, later the first Baron Braybrooke. He made extensive changes to the house, adding a suite of neo-Classical rooms designed by Robert Adam and a Gothic chapel. His refurbishments included a rare set of English Soho tapestries, now conserved and displayed in the Tapestry Room: this has also been redecorated to depict the room as it would have appeared when the tapestries were first installed there in 1767. Meanwhile, 'Capability' Brown was employed to remodel the grounds.

Today the house's interior largely represents the taste of the third Baron Braybrooke, who during the 1820s redecorated many of its rooms in the Jacobean style.

Doors and windows

Tea House Bridge

Entrance to the extensive organic kitchen gardens

This is how it would once have been

Audley End is a mansion with a difference and we can tour the newly restored service wing where one can get a 'peep' at a "parallel world" where armies of servants laboured to ensure the smooth running of this great mansion.

I bet the men did not do the washing up in those days!

The Creamery

The Laundry

And finally The Housekeepers office
Hope you enjoyed your visit


Willow said...

What a checkered past Audly End House has had. The Christopher Wren gardens are especially lovely. We toured the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Palace--I think these kitchens are brighter, probably newer. Very interesting!

Mike said...

Another gem I have never visited. Lovely interiors. Thanks for the tour!

La Petite Gallery said...

Each and every post you do is so interesting. You have such vast knowledge of these wonderful places. A real treat to read and
Thanks for sharing.

Yvonne from Maine

Lorrie said...

I thoroughly enjoy reading about your visits to the wonderful historical places in England. And this one has the added bonus of a glimpse into life "below stairs." Those were the people who made everything work and look good.


Needled Mom said...

I enjoyed my visit at Audly End. What an interesting history behind it.

That kitchen (and the kitchen gardens) is absolutely amazing. Imagine polishing all of that copper. Yikes!

Linda said...

Another place where you just say, "Wow". So amazing how many fabulous place like this are in England.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Possibly the housekeeper in these big old palaces had the hardest job of all, keeping that army of servants organized and things running smoothly. It boggles my mind to try to imagine what that must have entailed.

What an interesting place to visit this is. I'm sure a person could spend most of the day there.

nikkipolani said...

Wonderful looking rooms and light and gardens. The kitchen, though, is clearly built for some serious staff!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such a marvelous house! And those gardens!! But I would hate to be responsible for keeping all those windows clean, wouldn't you??

La Petite Gallery said...

just want to take a second look at those ceilings an, an, an,
well, just all of this great post.


Elizabeth said...

This is such a very impressive house.
I visited it some 40 years ago
but do not recall getting to see the wonderful kitchens.
I think the domestic side of things quite as fascinating as the grand public rooms.
As ever, a delight to follow in your footsteps discovering/rediscovering wonderful places.
Greetings to Alan.

La Petite Gallery said...

Just checking ....n
Hope all is well.


Andrea said...

Very beautiful and interesting. Thank you for sharing your visit.


a woman who is said...

That was quite a massive house. I enjoyed seeing the house keeping end of it. Unimaginable for me...

Hope things are going well? Just checked in on your grands. I imagine your grand daughter is getting around all over the place by now.

I would love to see some new pic's especially with you and grandpa :)

We are looking forward to a two baby Christmas this year. How blessed we are.

Killara girl said...

I confess I'm envious of these rooms...I sure could use them for my bunch! I always love to visit your blog! Happy New Year